Episode 269: Alexis Rockman

October 24, 2010 · Print This Article

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Alexis Rockman
This week: Tom and Duncan talk to super-talented painter Alexis Rockman. There is a Smithsonian retrospective
that opens this month so check it out.

The following stolen from the Greenpeace site:

Alexis’ paintings visualise the hopes and popularly held fears about scientific progress and the wide-ranging effects of human intervention on animal species, ecosystems, and the natural world.

We are brought face to face with a future that is at once surreal and unsettlingly familiar. Mutant animals, geometric landscapes, alternative environments either sterilized by science or unredeemably altered due to pollution. All this makes for some uncomfortable viewing.

“My position is one of ambivalence as the horse is already out of the barn so to speak; it is not biotechnology that is the problem but corporate America or globalism or colonialism. The implications of using this technology are far more devastating because of the unknowable effects. This is something that is very disturbing and visually compelling to me,” explains Alexis.

Despite the questions that Alexis’ work throws up about humanity’s role in shaping a dystopian future, there’s no obvious judgement in it.

Every element in the art is painstakingly researched. All the biological images have been developed through extensive collaboration with specialists in molecular biology, genetics, natural history and medical science.

“I really have to say these are relatively neutral images even if I use information that tends to make people feel uncomfortable. But I don’t see that as negative. I try to show things that are obviously familiar but also inform them with as much cultural and scientific history as I can, so that they are credible.

“The stuff that may not be noticed – for instance the geometry of the landscape in ‘The Farm’- to me is far more scary than an albino hairless mouse with cartilage growing on its back. I am also trying to make an emotionally resonant image that reaches people. I try to make it as credible as possible without making it boring.”

Alexis is aware of the political power of his work. As an American, he believes he is well placed to bring attention to the consequences of his homeland’s environmental, economic and political policies.

“I am of a generation whose relationship with the government and big business comes out of a post-Watergate scepticism. How could my work not have a political effect? I feel like I am in such a privileged position I would find it unconscionable if I didn’t take advantage of that as someone who cares about these issues.”

Collectively, the paintings presented in ‘Wonderful World’ offer a graphic vision of a bio-engineered near future in which human and animal bodies, crops and plants have been genetically altered to suit a variety of needs – whether commercial, aesthetic, medical or gastronomic.

Despite the potentially complex nature of the exhibition he makes a point of not being elitist, as his subject is something that touches every person on the planet.

“I don’t expect anyone to know anything. That is why I am a populist. If I have a show and people from different demographics come to find out about global warming, I don’t want to lose half of my audience due to my arrogance. It has to be decipherable to a six-year-old child. I try to construct it as an onion with different layers of meaning and iconography.”

The negative consequences of industrial and technological progress are rarely addressed in a modern culture fuelled by the products of multinational entertainment conglomerates. Alexis’ paintings hang out on the edge of complacency, forcing us to confront a vision of the future implicit in the choices we, as a society, make today.

This weeks show is dedicated to the memory of Penny Zeidman.

Episode 268: Stan Shellabarger and Dutes Miller/ Courtney Fink & Art Publishing Now

October 17, 2010 · Print This Article

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268

This week: Amanda and Patricia have a …. spirited….discussion with two of BAS’s favorite artists (and the greatest oversight in our interview history until now) Stan Shellabarger and Dutes Miller. Go see their show, it’s awesome!

Next, Brian and Duncan talk to Courtney Fink of Art Publishing Now while at Southern Exposure.

Did we really get the “bums rush” from politely denied by the Propellor fund, oh yes we did! Who received support? No word yet but watch the projects area of their site. prop grant winners coming soon

Lifted relevant info:
Art Publishing Now is a two-day event dedicated to the investigation and showcasing of art publishing practices in the Bay Area. It includes a day of presentations and critical discussions, an after-party, an art publishers fair, library and archive.

Western Exhibitions is pleased to present an exhibition by husband-and-husband artist team Miller & Shellabarger. The show opens on Friday, October 15 with a reception, from 5 to 8pm, which is free and open to the public.

This second showing at Western Exhibitions of Miller & Shellabarger’s collaborative pursuits will focus on works from several inter-related projects including Volume 6 of their large-scale silhouette artist books, documents from a recent performance involving funeral pyres and intimate, discrete objects that utilize embroidery and carved shells.

The silhouette is a key component in several of these new works. Miller & Shellabarger first employed silhouettes in large-scale artist books that contained their individual profiles, each one cut by the other. We will show the most recent book in this series as well as other silhouette-based works that use the silhouette as a starting point, including conjoined beard silhouette collages traced by friends and two embossed lead pieces that feature similar imagery. We will also show larger-than-life, phantasmagorical images, created during their  “Summer Studio” artist residency at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s Sullivan Galleries in 2010 which take advantage of the distortions of the silhouetted figure in light and shadow. Life-size body tracings of each other are realized in large drawings on paper made with gunpowder, and in a small book of photographs of body tracings made with seeds.

Additional work will include a twin set of pillowcases, each monogrammed with their initials using hair from their beards as thread, a delicate cameo depicting the two with their beards intertwined carved out of sardonic shell by an Italian master carver, and photographs from a recent performance “Untitled (Pyre)” where they found two naturally fallen trees in the forest, chopped them, and stacked the fireplace-sized pieces into roughly human-size forms, and burned these pyres at dusk.

Miller & Shellabarger are a 2009 recipient of the Peter S. Reed Foundation Grant, 2008 recipient of an Artadia Award, and a 2007 recipient of a Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation award. Their work is in the collections of the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art and the National Gallery of Canada in Ontario. In 2010 they showed a major selection of work at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Portland, Maine, participated in the Time-Based Arts (TBA) festival in Portland, Oregon and will have a solo exhibition in 2011 at the Illinois State University Galleries in Normal, Illinois. Their work has been written about in Artforum.com, Art & Auction, Frieze, Artnet, The Art Newspaper, Flash Art, TimeOut Chicago, and the Chicago Sun-Times. Dutes Miller and Stan Shellabarger also maintain separate artistic practices. They live and work in Chicago

Episode 267: James Elkins and the Stone Summer Theory Institute

October 10, 2010 · Print This Article

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James Elkins
This week: Duncan talks to Professor James Elkins about the Stone Summer Theory Institute and this years theme Beyond the Aesthetic and the Anti-Aesthetic.

The Stone Summer Theory Institute is week-long school in contemporary art theory. It is held in Chicago, in July, at the School of the Art Institute.

Each year brings together an unprecedented gathering of international scholars to discuss an unresolved question in contemporary art theory. This year’s subject is the aesthetic and one of its opposites, the anti-aesthetic. Some art practices aim at aesthetic value, while other art practices aim to do something in society, in politics, or to identity. The difference between those two conceptions of art is one of the deepest unresolved questions of current art practice.

Episode 266: Art Book Swap with Regency Arts Press/ Wexner Center with Christopher Bedford

October 3, 2010 · Print This Article

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This week: Amanda and Tom talk to Heathers Hubbs (director of NADA) and Lauren Wittels (Executive Director, Regency Arts Press, Ltd.) about the press, their projects and the forthcoming Art Book Swap (Saturday October 9th, 2010 12-5 at the AIC Ryerson and Burnham Libraries)!

Next: Duncan (in our first official phone interview) talks to Christopher Bedford, Curator of Exhibitions at the Wexner Center for the Arts in Columbus Ohio.

DONATE BOOKS! COME TO THE SWAP!

Episode 265: Abby Chen

September 26, 2010 · Print This Article

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Abby-Chen
This week: Matthew Harrison Tedford talks to curator Abby Chen.

They talk about the difficulties of curating contemporary Chinese art in the US, the relationship between social activism and art in China, and about a recent sympsosium on gender identity held by Abby in Guangzhou, China.

Abby Chen was born in Shandong, China, and raised in both Beijing and Shenzhen. She has been the Program Director of the Chinese Culture Center of San Francisco. Since 2006 she has overseen the Center’s Xian Rui Artist Excellence Exhibition Series and the Present Tense Biennial.

Formerly, she was the co-founder and Director of the Chinese Artists Network (CAN), an organization dedicated to contemporary Chinese visual artists.

With CAN, Abby has curated exhibits for the San Francisco Arts Commission, the Museum of Chinese in America in New York, the San Leandro History Museum & Art Gallery, Photo San Francisco, and Olive Hyde Art Gallery.